Drone drafted in to help firefighters bring blazes under control - and fight arson attacks

A drone has been drafted in as part of work to tackle a series of arson attacks which have blighted a community.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 1:04 pm

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) has the kit on hand around the clock through its control room, with two qualified pilots with the organisation able to deploy the technology at heights of up to 120 metres.

Its main use is to tackle ongoing incidents, relaying footage to improve awareness of what is happening to its crews, with it already playing a part in efforts to crackdown on a rise in deliberate fires in the Peterlee and Shotton Colliery areas in recent weeks as it accesses locations and looks at the environmental impact of the blazes.

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The drone in use at a recent incident tackled by County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service.

It was launched as part of arson prevention work in and around the North East Industrial Estate and in the Eden Hill area of Peterlee.

It is first time it has used it across an area to assess specific locations and the environmental impact of deliberate fires.

It hopes the information can be used to “provide visual support to our data on deliberate fire setting and help us more effectively target our arson intervention work.”

A still taken from the drone as firefighters from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service put out a deliberate fire.

Chris Williams Divisional Manager North added: “Our crews have dealt with a number of secondary fires at this location and all of which are believed to be deliberate.

"If you have any information regarding deliberate fires in your area, please call Firestoppers anonymously on 0800 169 5558.”

The drone is also being used over building fires to help work out hazards and fire spread, with thermal cameras used to identify hot spots and missing people.

It is frequently called in when wildfires break out in inaccessible locations, helping work out the size of the blaze, how fast it is spreading, how effective firefighting has been, work out access points and help work out where to create firebreaks.

Anyone who calls Firestoppers remains anonymous, phone numbers cannot be seen, calls are never recorded, the telephone line or IP address is scrambled so it is impossible for any to redial or track a call, or to know where, or what device, the online information has come from.

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